Q&A: Tips and Tricks to Stay Out of the Spam Folder


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When SendGrid’s email experts Elmer Thomas and Carly Brantz broke down some tips and tricks to make sure your emails don’t get banished to the spam folder, there were so many great questions during the webinar that they couldn’t get to everything. They later answered some of these questions here.

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Q&A: Tips and Tricks to Stay Out of the Spam Folder

  1. 1. Tips and Tricks to Stay Out ofthe Spam FolderWebcast Q&A with Elmer and Carly
  2. 2. When SendGrid’s email experts Elmer Thomasand Carly Brantz broke down some tips and tricksto make sure your emails don’t get banished to thespam folder, there were so many great questionsduring the webinar that they couldn’t get toeverything. They later answered some of thesequestions here. If you missed the webinar, you can access arecording here.
  3. 3. Q: How helpful/important is it to be certified by return path? A: Return path certification is the most widely accepted “whitelist”program for permission-based email senders. A whitelist is a list ofemail address or domain names from which an email blocking programor ISP will allow messages. For senders who appear on a whitelist thatis used by the most important ISPs, the chances of making it to theinbox will dramatically increase. The certification program had deepcorporate and consumer market coverage and lets certified sendersimprove email deliverability rates are more than 2 billion mailboxesworldwide.
  4. 4. Q: I would love to know more about testing for heuristics. We aredoing a few things on our end, but are still getting messagesbounced due to content even though out tests come out clean. A: Try sending your emails through a SPAM checker and analyzingthe results. There are a few to start with:www.mailingcheck.comwww.isnotspam.comwww.programmersheaven.comUse the keyword phrase “spam checker tool” if you don’t like the abovetools or are looking for more resources. For general knowledge aboutheuristics, Wikipedia has a good explanation.
  5. 5. Q: Do you have any examples of authenticating email? A: Best practices are to implement the three most acceptedmethods of authentication. You can find specific examples of each at:DKIMSenderIDSPF
  6. 6. Q: Are inbox rates affected if I change the “from” email addressbased on the type of product we are promoting? A: Email addresses can be divided into two parts, the “FriendlyFrom” and the routable part. For example, “Franklin Fasteners”franklin@fasteners.com. We don’t think you’ll incur a reputation hit ifyou change the “Friendly From” part (e.g. “Franklin Fasteners”) but youare more likely to incur a reputation hit if you change the routable part.Not all systems use the “from” address for reputation, but some do.That are more likely to associate your sending reputation to your IP oryour DKIM signature (inserted into your message headers) or acombination of both.
  7. 7. Q: If the reply-to in the header is to a different domain, does thatautomatically make it seem deceptive? We send emails to groupsof people and use the email of the group captain as the reply toheader. A: No. The SMTP RFC specifically allows for this functionality. Notethat a minority of admins may disregard this rule and impose their ownrules regarding from/to mismatches.
  8. 8. Q: Is there a list of phishing phrases and trigger wordssomewhere? A: Here are some resources that should help with phishing phrasesand trigger words that should be avoided within e-mail content. 100 SPAM Trigger Words & Phrases to Avoid Short List of Common Phishing Phrases
  9. 9. Q: How does inbox behavior work in spam filtering? A: ISPs use various types of inbox behavior in spam filtering. Sometrack the time the email stays in the inbox before it is deleted or howoften the subscriber interacts with the mail. All track who marks yourmessages as spam by clicking the “this is spam button” and some usepanel data from real subscribers who are asked to verify theappropriateness of inbox or spam folder placement.
  10. 10. Q: What about using CSS styles in-line? (in regards to using CSSin email content) A: We recommend using inline CSS. CSS provides ease andflexibility however the support varies among email clients. Some strip itout entirely. Is it extremely important not to use external CSS like that,which is in a file like a website does. Instead embed it in the email orinline written at the very least.
  11. 11. Q: Our permission based subscribers are getting regularlythrottled by Comcast. Comcast tells us the IP is not on a blacklist.Is Comcast just the devil, or is something else going on here? A: Comcast uses SenderScore to determine when to throttleincoming email per RL000001. You may check your SenderScore here.
  12. 12. Q: We have been collecting contacts for years. If we move toSendGrid, will our list have to opt-in again? A: If you have a list of opted in subscribers we do provide theoption to upload those lists to our system easily and mail to them fromSendGrid.
  13. 13. Q: How do you find your IP address, like you mentioned, it’s notalways the web server IP. Every device connected to the public internet is assigned a uniquenumber known as an Internet Protocol (IP) address. IP addressesconsist of four numbers separated by periods (also called a “dotted-quad”) and look something like You can find yours by visitinghere.
  14. 14. Q: Do you have any newsletter templates that will ensure gooddelivery? A: You can not ensure good deliverability with a template. Thereare many facts that go into achieving good deliverability. I suggest youtake a look at our Email Deliverability Guide for further details.
  15. 15. Q: I have a virtual assistant located overseas and she sends mymarketing campaigns for me using SendGrid. Would her IPaddress affect our reputation? A: No, because we do the actual sending of your email in that case.
  16. 16. Q: What is the role of email source IP address in email delivery? A: The source IP address has a reputation attached to it. Werecently had a webinar on this topic, check out this link for a recording,followed by Q&A.
  17. 17. Q: My customer wants to buy an email list, is it legal to send it, oris it pure spam? A: While it is not illegal to send to an email list, our opinion atSendGrid is that mailing to a purchased list is never a good idea.Reputation is key to your email deliverability and a huge part of that ismaintaining the best permission practices you can. Make sure that yoursubscribers want to receive the email you are sending and that they areexpecting the email. An easy way to increase complaints is to purchasea list and send to people who not only do not know who you are butwhy they are getting email from you because they never gave yourpermission to send. SendGrid does not allow our customers to mail tothird party lists through our infrastructure.
  18. 18. Q: Do you suggest to use your SMTP server as our employeeSMTP server? A: Yes, as long as you comply with our terms of service.
  19. 19. Q: We are doing double opt in, and our database is confirmed bypeople that invite their families and friends. That means that wehave almost no SPAM. We are doing everything you talked about,but still get complaints on our contacts that they are not receivingmail, and we have to tell them to look at their SPAM inbox…Howcome businesses like Groupon get away with all of these policies,when they buy mailing lists or don’t have the double opt-in? A: In my opinion it comes down to relevancy. Companies that aresending relevant content that subscribers want like a killer daily dealoften can get away with it because people want those emails. Emaildelivery is a science and there are many steps involved to getting youremail delivered. You need to warm up your IP addresses and takeprecaution to send relevant content that your subscribers areexpecting.
  20. 20. Q: How bad is it to hit a spam trap? A: Having spam traps on your email list can cause plenty ofproblems. Sometimes spam traps are added accidentally by entering atypo and adding an email address by mistake. The primary way is byusing a third party list that had them included. Once you hit one it isdifficult to remove them because ISPs don’t want to tell you whichaddress is the spam trap. The best way to avoid them and removethem is verifying that your list is clean and your subscribers have opted-in to receive email from you.
  21. 21. Q: If you purchase a list, can you check with the vendor of thepurchase list if their emails are free of spam traps, are they legallyallowed to release that information? A: It is impossible to know if there is a spam trap on their list or not,that is a primary reason we advise our clients NOT to send to apurchased list. A spam trap is an email address that doesn’t send emailbut identifies spammers who send it email. They are created by theISPs to trick senders so there is not was to know except by havingpermission to send it to you subscribers.
  22. 22. Q: Our contacts subscribe freely and the double-opt mail goes tothe SPAM box…how will they confirm if they don’t get the mail??? A: This is one reason why people choose to use a service such asSendGrid. If you choose to utilize your open email system, these tipson our Email Deliverability Guide should help you.
  23. 23. Q: My list was hosted with GetResponse. The IP that I’m on hit 28spam traps. How bad is this? A: You are definitely not in an ideal situation! I would advise thatyou not send to that list because identifying which addresses are thespam traps is extremely difficult. You will need to rebuild your list orwork on doing an “reactivation” campaign to ensure that the addresseson your list are legitimate.
  24. 24. Q: Does SendGrid provide sender id setup? When I look at theheader in Hotmail sender ID comes out NONE or fail. A: No, we do not.
  25. 25. Q: Does SendGrid allow to send to purchased lists? A: No, we do not.
  26. 26. Carly Brantzcarly.brantz@sendgrid.com@carlybrantzElmer Thomaselmer.thomas@sendgrid.com@thinkingserious